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Why I’ll Never Reveal Whether My Kid Is ‘Gifted’

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Two years ago, my husband and I made the rounds of all the private schools in Los Angeles. Our son was nearly finished with preschool and we hoped to get him into a great school for kindergarten. We didn’t have a decent public school near our home, and our son didn’t get into the really good charter school in our neighborhood, so private school was our only option.

One of the schools in town only accepts children who have tested as gifted. In an effort to keep our options open we had our son take the gifted and talented test. But before we received our son’s test results, we decided that the gifted-only school wasn’t for us. Quite frankly, I wasn’t comfortable publicly branding my kid as anything at such young age.

But as we continued with the application process (at other schools), we noticed that there were a ton of gifted kids running around the city. Actually there were a ton of mothers of gifted kids who talked about their gifted children, to anyone who would listen. Everywhere I went, someone wanted to tell me about how gifted their kid was (and wanted to know whether my kid had tested as gifted). It was as if it was no longer enough for a 5-year-old to be sweet, nice, or even smart. He had to be gifted too.

I’ve never revealed my son’s results to anyone but my husband, in the same way that my own mother never revealed the results of my own assessment when I was a kid. To me, a child’s intelligence isn’t necessarily something to brag about. If our kids are smart, or even gifted, it’s the result of some genetic gift they received in the same way a child might be born beautiful or a natural athlete. They didn’t do anything to deserve it and they’re certainly not better because test results say they are “gifted.”

Even more importantly, I’ve never revealed my son’s results because I don’t want him to know the results. I want my son to be whomever he thinks he is, not what he thinks he’s supposed to be. I fear a gifted label at 5 years old might set up him for a lifetime of either being smug about his intelligence or an overwhelming amount of pressure to live up to a label. Either way, it’s not what I want for him.

So if my son turns out to be the smartest kid in school or turns out to struggle through math, it doesn’t really matter to me. I want my son to define himself, not be defined by some test.

If your child took the G&T test, did you share the results with him or her? Take our poll to weigh in!

Photo: Getty